Australian political commentary seems to have taken a musical detour in the past few months. From Craig Emerson’s ‘Whyalla wipe out’ Skyhooks rendition to Wayne Swan using the lyricism of Bruce Springsteen in his war with Clive Palmer, Australian politicians are rocking musical metaphors. 

Cartoon: Warren Brown

Wayne Swan has used Springsteen’s Badlands ballad in his recent tit for tat warfare with Clive Palmer. Swan spoke at the 2012 Button Lecture telling his audience how ‘The Boss” inspires him.

“‘Poor man want to be rich, rich man want to be king, and a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything’.  Now when I listened to that song again recently it struck me that Springsteen was talking expressly about a few people I’ve written about lately.” said Swan.

The ears of Gina Rinehart, Andrew Forrest and Clive Palmer must be burning.

Clive Palmer in true Australian fashion has criticised Swan’s foreign music taste. “I rely on Redgum. Unlike the Treasurer, I don’t go to the United States for inspiration.”

You wouldn’t have thought it but Joe Hockey prefers the soft rock sounds of Nickelback. Chris Evans is a self confessed Bob Dylan man and Christopher Pyne like Palmer prefers the home made sounds of ACDC.

If Swan has not learnt from his colleague Craig Emerson’s mistakes it’s that using music as political ammunition can lead to a wipeout.

The Twitter war between Clive Palmer and Wayne Swan has been a childish and embarrassing pursuit for both parties. Below is a sample of the ‘intellectual’ debate both men have been waging.

Prof Clive Palmer ‏@CliveFPalmer
Unpatriotic of @SwannyDPM to be quoting songs from a millionaire US rock star in his speech. I prefer Oz groups like Redgum and The Seekers.

Prof Clive Palmer ‏@CliveFPalmer
It’s just sad that @SwannyDPM will be out there again tonight peddling the politics of envy. We all have a right to express a point of view.

Wayne Swan ‏@SwannyDPM
Disappointing for Coolum community that @CliveFPalmer is sacking staff – not what community needs.

Wayne Swan ‏@SwannyDPM
@CliveFPalmer too scared to run against me - looks like @TonyAbbottMHR will have another big chicken chasing him around the country

Before Swan entered into the mud slinging match with Palmer he was a measured, well spoken and smooth politician, now Palmer has managed to bring Swan down to his level. As a miner Palmer operates below the earth’s surface. It seems Swan has fallen a long way.

Clive Palmer is no stranger to controversy, spin and hype. If he is not spreading titanic sized lies he is having his Gold Coast United F.C license revoked for inappropriate behaviour.

The latest rumour circulating is that Palmer wants to turn his Coolum Resort and Spa into a Jurassic park style resort complete with dinosaurs.

According to a source in Palmer’s inner circle, he has been in talks with Scottish based scientists who cloned the infamous Dolly the sheep at the Roslin Institute in 1996. If the Jurassic Park movies are anything to go by cloning dinosaur DNA always ends badly.

Palmer has since denied the claims.

Palmer has a long history of blowing hot air. During the QLD State Election he claimed the CIA was in cahoots with green groups to undermine the Australian coal industry. Palmer later revealed he had no regrets about lying as it served to get Campbell Newman into the top job.

“It took a great lot of attention off some of the negative aspects of the election. That was a very good thing,” Palmer explained once Newman was Premier.

Lying is always a very bad thing especially when it comes to politics. Instead of turning their backs on Palmer and scolding him for lying, the media have only embraced him with open arms promising him headlines whenever he opens his mouth.

Wayne Swan and the rest of the Australian media should stop engaging with Palmer. The Twitter war between Swan and Palmer is childish and should not exist between grown men. In a recent retort to Swan’s use of Springsteen’s Badlands, Palmer demands he should not be judged on the size of his bank account.

“I guess the big thing is we shouldn’t judge people by how much money they have or whether they are rich or poor.” How right you are Clive! We should judge people on the value of their words instead. If integrity and honesty were in currency Palmer would be broke.

Clive Palmer is a man fighting to remain relevant and only serving to prove himself redundant, Wayne Swan should be wise not to suffer the same curse.

The saying ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire’ applies to Palmer and one way to put out a fire is to starve it of oxygen. Wayne Swan should enter into a war of ignorance, I’m sure he will find it so much more satisfying.

Follow Cassie on Twitter at @ccbyrnes11

Most commented


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    • M says:

      03:50pm | 02/08/12

      God bless clive.

      Also, which polly listens to Guns N Roses?

    • Rhino says:

      04:12pm | 02/08/12

      Might as well ask which politican listens to Cannibal Corpse, Slayer, Sepulchre etc etc

    • dovif says:

      05:26pm | 02/08/12

      Swannie keep telling us that foreigners owns mining companies, therefore we should tax them into oblivion (with no idea what that would mean to all Australia) and how much taxes the miners are already paying (company tax, GST, carbon tax states taxes etc)

      When the Australian miners stand up to tell Swann that mining benefits Australia and create jobs in Australia and Wayne is wrong, Wayne tells them to shut up so he can continue with his spin.

      I can safely say that one of the following is bad for Australia

      and only the stupidest of Australians would disagree with me

    • Acca says:

      06:06pm | 02/08/12

      Surely the music preferences of all MPs are maintained on a register? To ensure no conflicts of interest?

    • Tom says:

      09:49am | 03/08/12

      Don’t you just love Warren Brown’s cartoon.

      I suspect Swan is acting the clown to divert media attention away from Gillard’s anointed successor in the ALP.

    • Luke says:

      03:50pm | 02/08/12

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Labor spring Swan on us as PM. All this stuff with Swan at the moment looks a little odd. All this you Tubey stuff he’s done, a warm cuddly human being. Something is going on with in Labor. Watch this space. PM Swan on the way?

    • Doubtful says:

      06:08pm | 02/08/12

      Swan the lame duck PM.

    • Joan says:

      06:53pm | 02/08/12

      Luke: Swan just trying to Ape Rudd. Rudds got a million followers on twitter, Swan just wants a bit of it and thinks a bit of Springsteen cool will rub on him , but no , Springsteen just makes Swan look like aome nerdy square. As for Swan as PM - I`m just splitting sides laughing if Labor has come to that low level of desperation

    • Tom says:

      09:52am | 03/08/12

      “PM Swan on the way?”  ... Nope, Swan’s clown act is just a diversion.

      The real Brutus is standing in the rotunda, knife at the ready, and does not want media filming the event.

    • AdamC says:

      03:53pm | 02/08/12

      Swansong’s problem is that he just isn’t a very good treasurer and, tacky appeals to class envy aside, he isn’t that great a polician either. Clive Palmer is right to call him out for appealing to the lowest common denominator and, despite Swan’s best efforts, Palmer is entltled to give his opinion.

      Actually, that last bit is where Swan’s schtick falls over altogether. Why shouldn’t Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart and Swan’s other critics be able to criticise him? He is the one who keeps initiating these slanging matches, after all.

    • MH says:

      05:13pm | 02/08/12

      “Swansong’s problem is that he just isn’t a very good treasurer”

      Spot on.  The man is an economic illiterate.  He’s out of his depth in a puddle.  His idea of policy analysis is spending time alone with his thoughts - and what a deeply fulfilling experience that must be - then subjecting the world to a montage about his mancrush on Bruce Springsteen.  It really would be comical if he didn’t have his hands in the treasury coffers.  If only we could let him play harmlessly in the corner with his back catalogue.

    • Bruce says:

      12:24am | 03/08/12

      I wish we knew which public servants are doing his work for him !

    • nihonin says:

      03:59pm | 02/08/12

      First off Cassie, nice Palmer bashing article (does he scare the left that much, really does he?), but I have to give kudos to you for actually telling (bluntly I may add) someone in the Labor party (finally) to pull their head in and stop the tit for tat political debate the country now endures..

    • Borderer says:

      05:05pm | 02/08/12

      Clive Palmer is a man fighting to remain relevant and only serving to prove himself redundant, Wayne Swan should be wise not to suffer the same curse.

      So funny because people listen to Palmer and not to the government, he’s acting like a court jester because he can, even the Greens sucessfully slag off the government. Swan + 18months = centrelink recipient

    • TrueOz says:

      06:53pm | 02/08/12

      “Clive Palmer is a man fighting to remain relevant and only serving to prove himself redundant, Wayne Swan should be wise not to suffer the same curse.”

      By implication you’re saying that there was a time when Wayne Swan was relevant. Nice try, but unfortunately completely inconsistent with reality.

    • CapnCrunch says:

      04:01pm | 02/08/12

      Clive Palmer is stupid gabone! The calibre of the Australian billionaire is very low indeed.

    • nihonin says:

      04:20pm | 02/08/12

      Well CapnCrunch, work hard, earn your billions and show Australia how billionaires should act.

    • acotrel says:

      06:58am | 03/08/12

      He’d make a much better PM than Tony Abbott !

    • SLF says:

      04:07pm | 02/08/12

      Clive Palmer is a national treasure and I for one look forward to the day when he disembarks from Titanic II, riding a cloned T-Rex and proceeding to knock on 4 million doors as part of his election campaign.

    • Michael S says:

      04:21pm | 02/08/12

      Doors to be knocked on is capped at 5,000

    • William says:

      04:28pm | 02/08/12

      Cassie, you describe Swan as…“a measured, well spoken and smooth politician”.
      You must be referring to a different Wayne Swan than the one I know of.

    • Super D says:

      04:29pm | 02/08/12

      “Wayne Swan should enter into a war of ignorance, I’m sure he will find it so much more satisfying.”.

      He’s certainly win.  Swannie’s ignorance is world class.

      Lets not forget that the reason Swannie hates the mining magnates is beause they ridiculed him over the original mining tax which Swannie thought was his finest hour.  Of course the big miners didn’t like it but then they gave Julia a “win” as a negotiator.  I’ve not seen too many progressive commentators complaining about Big Government and Big Mining getting into bed together.

    • maria says:

      04:32pm | 02/08/12

      Give us a direct democracy a la Switzerland in which the ultimate power lies in the hands of the people than we will able to tame the boofheads of Canberra and stop dancing under their twisted off beat tune…
      darla dirladada…

    • Tubesteak says:

      04:34pm | 02/08/12

      This entire government is beholden to opinion polls and the 24 hour news cycle of 8-second sound-bytes.

      I doubt they see beyond that to be able to govern as a bunch of leaders.

    • Max Redlands says:

      04:41pm | 02/08/12

      Minor point I know but I wouldn’t characterize “Badlands” as a ballad.

      On a more subsatntive point I can’t see how you can say “Clive Palmer is a man fighting to remain relevant and only serving to prove himself redundant”. Anyone with his resources doesn’t have to prove their “relevance” to anybody. The fact he is who he is ensures he’s a big part of the picture (whether he likes it or not) but Redgum?!! - Yikes!

    • davey says:

      04:53pm | 02/08/12

      Swan lost his seat in 1996 and he’s heading for oblivion this time. Modern pollies cannot bully the electorate into voting for them by attacking billionaires who pay the most tax and employ the most people, apart from the public service outside of which Swan has never worked. Swan is straight from the 1950s Queensland Labor Party them and us haters. He deserves to be dumped again.

    • Keith Hammersmith says:

      04:57pm | 02/08/12

      “Clive Palmer is a man fighting to remain relevant and only serving to prove himself redundant”
      funny I was thinking the same thing about Swannie.
      The thing is, its ok for Palmer to make a fool of himself, say whatever he will,  he is under no obligations to do other wise,  Swan however makes the country look stupid that we have this childish display from the deputy PM.

      What does swan want anyway? If palmer packed up,  and sacked all of his staff and just said no more to business he would still be considered the bad guy by labor,  get over it, people need jobs, jobs are created by people not unlike palmer,  move on swannie

    • Gianna says:

      06:12pm | 03/08/12

      Keith Hammersmith says: 04:57pm | 02/08/12
      “Clive Palmer is a man fighting to remain relevant and only serving to prove himself redundant”
      Wayne Swan is a man fighting to remain relevant and only serving to prove himself redundant.

      There you go .Fixed.

    • Scotty W says:

      05:03pm | 02/08/12

      Speaking it like it is, Cassie? With loose assumptions which sink the politicians themselves into the murky mess, I’d rather read something new, especially about Australian Politics, if at all possible.

    • Against the Man says:

      05:52pm | 02/08/12

      Thank god for the Labor party and Swannie. God help us if we ever get Abbott and his Coalition in charge of this country. The pits.

    • nihonin says:

      06:42am | 03/08/12

      You mean the pit we are currently in can be deeper?  God help us even more if this current Labor mob are returned then.

    • ThursdayPunch says:

      06:10pm | 02/08/12

      The point being Cassie, that C Palmer is a private citizen, whereas W Swan is the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer of the country. Swan’s appallingly transparent, vacuous appeal to the base view (rich = bad, poor = virtuous) makes me cringe. I wonder if Swan likes Judas Priest?

    • Denny says:

      06:20pm | 02/08/12

      I would prefer that the media ignored Swan instead of Palmer. Swan is a first rate fool. he lied about the carbon tax, he stabbed his mate in thye back, he snuggles up to Rio, BHP and Xtrata and condems our miners because he did a sweatheart deal with the big three.

      If the fool is looking for a hero in music why not Harry Chapin. Harry sang one concert for himself and his family and one for the poor. He backed up his words and beleifs with some action. Instead and in typical labor fashion he admires a hypocrite who talks a big game but pockets the money. Swan should give 50% of his income to the poor. he certainly doesn’t deserve the money.

    • Against the Man says:

      07:36pm | 02/08/12

      Swan looks like the soundtrack to his whole life is Aqua’s Barbie Girl smile

    • TrueOz says:

      07:02pm | 02/08/12

      Being a lover of American musicians, I think that this was maybe written for “Swanee” by Al Jolson (OK, I’ve used just a little poetic license here)...

      Swanee - you’re a wanker, you’re a wanker
      My dear old Swanee.
      I’d give the world to be among the folks in C-A-N-B-E-R-R-A though my Joolya’s waiting for me,
      waiting for the knife from Swanee
      The folks in Oz will see me no more when I get to that Swanee Lodge!

      (he whistles like a bird - or is than an imbecile?)

    • eRon says:

      07:15pm | 02/08/12

      “Before Swan entered into the mud slinging match with Palmer he was a measured, well spoken and smooth politician”
      You have got to be joking. The man is a clown in a business suit.

    • GigaStar says:

      07:40pm | 02/08/12

      Oh the inhumanity. This is all just a PR exercise by Swan. Yes the miners are making alot of money - but under the framework set by the government. If Swan doesn’t like what’s happening then why didn’t he bring in a proper mining tax when he had the chance (the biggest miners won’t pay tax under the current structure so now it will actually cost the tax payer).

      Swan is only trying to make himself look human and more acceptable to the voters by picking a fight. He’s just making a speech and invoking a millionaire US singer - he’s not doing anything real, nothing authentic - he’s just creating a buzz. The plebs will hear his Swansong and be fooled.

      Worst still are the journalists who run with the story and write irrelevant dribble about who likes which singer - **shake-head**

    • eRon says:

      07:45pm | 02/08/12

      Actually,  my last comment has done clowns the world over, a HUGE disservice.
      He is a buffoon. And the fact that he’s even posing as Australia’s PM while that other loser is on holidays from lying to her constituents, only magnifies the ongoing perception that this country is currently experiencing it’s worst government since federation.
      Yes, that includes Gough, AND Billy McMahon. A big call, but what’s to argue?

    • Craig says:

      05:45am | 03/08/12

      Swan has achieved nothing except to get elected a few times through cozying up to the right people to be selected. All his good decisions were made by Treasury and he simply parroted them.

      Palmer made his money by working hard and building businesses over many years. He has personally created employment for thousands and increased te wealth of Australia.

      In the success stakes Swan is a nobody who has talked his way to a position for which he has no ability. Palmer succeeds or failed through his ability.

      While Palmer is (far) more colourful than Swan, the ‘grey man’, Has a very different style and odd beliefs, he has still built a great deal. Swan has built nothing and is helping the demise of Labor.

      Both lie in public and attempt to influence political outcomes - for different reasons. Both can be bullies or generous.

      Of the two I know where I stand with Palmer and he is honest as to his motivations. He had built his own presence through hard work. Swan is a dangerous enigma attempting to create a presence for himself by being ‘anti’ people who have created great businesses and wealth for many.

      The more Swan opposed hard working rich people the stupider he looks, despite what Labor’s focus groups are telling him.

      A weak person defines themselves through others. A strong person defined themself.

      Swan looks weak in these attacks and is destroying what credibility Labor has left.

      And no I do not work for Palmer, nor have I ever had any dealings with him. Mine is a view of both from afar as a citizen and a voter.

    • Associate to Academia says:

      12:35pm | 03/08/12

      Twaddle. Palmer is a real estate agent who was in the right place at the right time, with his pants down, pointing at the Chinese. And he isn’t a “Professor”. He WAS for a VERY SHORT TIME an Adjunct Professor of Business Studies, for Bond, which isn’t even a real university. An adjunct professorship lasts as long as he provides the services for which the adjunct professorship is given, which he no longer does. To call Palmer a professor, is to denigrate properly accredited people who have risen to the heights of Professorship in Academia.

    • Kerr Avon says:

      08:08am | 03/08/12

      Also note that Bruce Springsteen earned his money spending years playing bars & clubs in New Jersey before fame came his way. He also still works hard for the entertainment of his fans playing 4 hour gigs at over 60 years of age is hard work also providing employment to others supporting the tour. Whereas all Swan has done is suck on the public teat most of his working life

    • James Adelaide says:

      09:57pm | 05/08/12

      To all of those who hate the current federal government: 

      Look closely at Queensland before you vote at the next federal election


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